Monday, September 18, 2017

Lazy Lester - I'm a Lover Not a Fighter

Subtitled "The Complete Excello Singlers 1956-1962", this set compiles some amazing, swampy, Jimmy Reed-like blues/r'n'b from the harp-blowin' Lester and continues with several bonus tracks of his session work for others.

After a chance bus meeting with Lightnin' Slim, Lester accompanied him to a studio session and sat in with Slim when the harmonica player that was booked didn't show up. This led to his own contract with Excello and the results appear here!

As I said, most of the work here is pretty damn superior mid-tempo, harp-driven blues in the mold of Jimmy Reed, with that kind of cool, swampy backbeat. "Lester's Stomp" is a great harp instrumental in the vein of Little Walter's "Juke", he's got his own calling card in "They Call Me Lazy", the Kinks covered his "I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter", the Fabulous Thunderbirds had a hit with his rockin' "Sugar Coated Love" (which Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders also do on their latest album - which is where I found out about Lester) and "I Hear You Knockin'" (which Todd adds as a medley with "Love") continues in this swingin' style.

"Through the Goodness of My Heart" provides some hand-clappin' r'n'b, "Late in the Evening" and "Bye Bye Baby"are upbeat dance numbers, he slows down for "A Real Combination For Love" and "You Got Me Where You Want Me", sax is added to the mix for the slow-steppin' "Whoa Now" and more cool swamp-blues for his last couple tracks.

His session work is highlighted starting with Slim Harpo's "My Home Is a Prison", Tabby Thomas' bopppin' "Role On Ole Mule", Lightnin' Slim's slow'n'evil "Nothing But the Devil", Lonesome Sundown's jumpin' jive in "Gonna Stick To You Baby", another Tabby Thomas piece "Hoodoo Party" and finally, one more from Lightnin' Slim with "Rooster Blues".

Great comp of this lesser-known talent!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Benefit for Ian of the Double Down at the Double Down, Friday Sept 15, 2017

Ian, the Double Down's booker/bartender, underwent serious surgery and while he is recovering well, obviously, there are many bills incurred thanks to America's wonderful health care system. 7 of Vegas' top acts got together to play this benefit for him on his home turf.

Starting things off was the Wolfhounds, a hard-core-ish punk act that I was not familiar with before. Tight playing and lots of vocals and energy. Dug the cover of "Please DOn't Let Me Be Misunderstood'! An intense way to begin the night!

Vegas' premier surf act, Thee Swank Bastards - this time with drummer Turbo and bassist Jeff Murphy - came on next with their instrumental prowess while Jesse took strolls throughout the room, onto tables and chairs and, when he felt lazy, he sat down in the audience for a while. Their traditional Black Sabbath medley of "Electric Funeral" and "Fairies Wear Boots" was augmented by the inclusion of the song "Black Sabbath", that they somehow managed to play with a surf beat! And, of course, extra visual appeal was added by the lovely dancing, Ivana Blazie. Always a good time with the Bastards!

I finally had a chance to check out the all-femme Negative Nancys, featuring female drummer about town, Courtney Carol. Kate and Kelley traded off lead guitar and lead vocals and Shannon handles the bass as they sing punk rock songs like "Cunt" and "Sorry, Not Sorry". Bonus points for the Eater jacket!

I've ranted'n'raved numerous times about one of my fave acoustic acts in town, the All Togethers. This evening cellist Brenna was MIA, but they still sounded great with Brandon and Michael holding down the dual guitars'n'backing vocals, Ken taking lead vocals and mandolin and Cindy keeping it all together on the upright'n'vocals. Always a fun drinkin' band that people will dance to, even without the drums, and their take on "Baba O'Reilly" never fails to win over fans.

The Quitters were a bit too much of a screaming hard-core band for my tastes - sorry guys, nothing personal!

As happens all too often, the Psyatics were on super late - almost 3:00 am by the time they started! But, they are always worth sticking around for, as long as you're not a tired, old man like me! But, they sounded great as they walloped through a couple new songs (dug the riff-rocker with a couple time changes), stuff from the various CD's and the slower "Evangeline", that got Kalani and Nicole up to dance with Ivana, who was again lending her talents to the band.

As much as I wanted to, I couldn't stick around for Gold Top Bob, but hope that I can catch him soon, as he gets lots of raves from the locals.

There were lots of prizes raffled off, money donated, drinks consumed and an amazing variety of music donated to this cause. We hope for a complete and swift recovery to Ian!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

recommended gigs

Thursday Sept 14 - Mugen Hoso, Illicitor, Time Crashers at the Beauty Bar
Thursday Sept 14 - the Yawpers, the All Togethers at Backstage Bar and Billiards

Friday Sept 15 - the Psyatics, the All Togethers, the Quitters, the Wolfhounds, the Negative Nancys, the Swank Bastards and Gold Top Bob at the Double Down

Saturday Sept 16 - Howlin' King Crawdad at the Sand Dollar

Monday Sept 18 - Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Saturday Sept 23 - Danzig at the Brooklyn Bowl
Saturday Sept 23 - the Bitters at Evel Pie
Saturday Sept 23 - the All Togethers and El Maldonado at Golden Tiki

Monday Sept 25 - Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki
Monday Sept 25 - Wand, Acid Sisters, Darto at the Bunkhouse

Wednesday Sept 27 - Giuda at Backstage Bar and Billiards
Wednesday Sept 27 - Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Thursday Sept 28 - Thee Fourgiven reunion show with the Darts, the Jackets (from Switzerland) and the Laissez Fairs at the Bunkhouse

Friday Sept 29 - Shanda and the Howlers at Evel Pie

Wed Oct 4 - Dr. Phobic at the Double Down

Fri Oct 6 - Monk and the Po Boys host the Blues Society Jam at the BUnkhouse

Saturday Oct 7 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, the Psyatics, The Legendary Boilermakers, Water Landing at the Double Down for Nikki's birthday

Sunday Oct 8 - the return of the Gentlemen of Four Outs' Booze Brunch at the Golden Tiki

Saturday Oct 14 - Bob Dylan at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan

Wednesday Oct 18 - the Bronx at the Bunkhouse

Sat Oct 21 - the Peculiar Pretzlemen at the Huntridge Tavern

Tues Oct 24 - Genitorturers at the Dive Bar

Friday Oct 27 - the Messer Chups, Boss Martians, Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Saturday Oct 28 - Agent Orange, the Heroine, Sheiks of Neptune, the Psyatics at the Beauty Bar

Tues Oct 31 - Bob Log III with the return of Prophet Greene at the Dive Bar

Friday Nov 3 - Shanda and the Howlers host the Blues Society Jam Night at the Sand Dollar

Wednesday Nov 8 - the Sloths at the Dive Bar

Friday Nov 10 - The Delta Bombers, Shanda and the Howlers and the Inside Outlaws at the Bunkhouse

Saturday Nov 11 - the return of the Swamp Gospel with Water Landing and more at the Double Down

Thursday Nov 16 - Boris with Torche at the Bunkhouse

Saturday Nov 18 - Gwar at Fremont Country Club

Wednesday Nov 22 - Barb Wire Dolls, Svetlanas, '57 at the Beauty Bar

Saturday Dec 2 - The Swamp Gospel and the Psyatics at the Huntridge Tavern

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Blind Snooks Eaglin - That's All Right

Fird "Snooks" Eaglin was a New Orleans child prodigy singer and guitarist, who started working as a teenager with NO legend Allen Toussaint before moving onto a solo career. This album of solo acoustic blues (playing 6 and 12 string guitars) was recorded in 1961 and shows his versatility as well as his mastery of the guitar. His voice has a Ray Charles-like quality (he even billed himself as "Little Ray Charles" at one point), and is effective and evocative in these numbers.

Starting with a variation of the vaudeville blues of Washboard Sam's "Mama Don't You Tear My Clothes", he moves into the upbeat blues of "Mailman Passed", with some exceptional guitar work, some country-pop in "I'm a Country Boy", Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" as an acoustic blues number, an early version of the folky "Corinna Corinna" done as "Alberta", the Fats Domino-like "Brownskin Woman" and Tampa Red's "Don't You Lie to Me" is spiced up with some dazzling string-work.

Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" is a boppin' r'n'b workout, "If I Don't Get Well" (apparently taken from St. Louis Jimmy as well as Howlin' Wolf) is a cool, slow, standard blues, "Bottle Up and Go' is a pretty straight, upbeat reading, back to the down'n'gritty, crawlin' blues (with more fine guitar) for "The Walkin' Blues", Amos Milburn's "One More Drink" has a whole different feel on guitar as opposed to the original piano, but it works well (although the guitar is buried a bit on this cut), and as a finale, there's one more 12-string blues in "Fly Right Baby".

Eaglin's style is slick and almost jazzy at times, but his guitar prowess cannot be denied and this is a fine collection of the man and his guitar. Nice stuff!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Elmore James/John Brim - Whose Muddy Shoes

It always astonishes me when I discover certain albums that I have not talked about, especially when I got them at the same time as others that I have ranted about. I can only assume that my life was crazy - not an unrealistic assumption - and it just slipped my mind. This Chess release is, obviously, one of these that I can't understand, as it is a fave acquisition and an amazing split album.

Elmore James is, of course, the electric slide guitar master who propelled Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" into a hit single. John Brim is much less well known, although no less talented, and would probably have remained an obscure footnote in Chicago blues if Van Halen hadn't recorded his "Ice Cream Man" on their first album.

This release alternates between to the two artists, opening with the above-mentioned swingin' "Ice Cream Man" (with backbeat provided by Brim's wife, Grace), followed by James' sax-driven deep blues title cut, his boppin' dance number "Madison Blues" and a swampy, slower blues in "I See My Baby". Brim returns with a star-studded session including Little Walter, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Willie Dixon and Fred Below for the upbeat groove of "You Got Me" - can't see any reason why this didn't connect with people - Brim's fine vocal delivery combined with this amazing backing band provides an excellent number.

Back to the much more prolific Elmore for another cool, slow blues in "My Best Friend", which shows off his non-slide guitar talents, along with his heartfelt slow-slider, "The Sun Is Shining". John gives us a sad Yuletide tune in "Lifetime Baby" that nonetheless includes fine guitar work interspersed with James Dalton's hip harmonica, back to Elmore for the bouncin', "Dust My Broom"-like "Talk To Me Baby", Brim returns with Little Walter's band for "Rattlesnake", a variation on "Hound Dog" (close enough that it wasn't released for fear of legal reprisals), and the great jumpin' r'n'b of "Be Careful What You Do" that J. Geils Band covered to great effect on their Hotline album.

Elmore gives a very different, slowed down reading of "Dust My Broom" (which he recorded numerous times - love the guitar'n'sax interplay), more jump'n'jive in the T-Bone Walker-like instrumental "Tool Bag Boogie", back to Brim's final offering of the Muddy Waters-ish "Tough Times" (with Eddie Taylor playing some fab guitar) and the whole sheebang closes with James' iconic sax'n'slide take on T-Bone's "Stormy Monday".

This is an excellent split-CD - two great artists and probably one of the only places to find all 6 of Brim's sides on CD. Get it if you can find it!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Eddie Taylor In Session - Diary of a Chicago Bluesman 1953-1957

The title here is pretty self-explanatory - Eddie Taylor was a session man who played with some great artists on some of the coolest blues from the 50's. Stars like John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim and especially Jimmy Reed, an old friend from down south whose sound Taylor helped to create, appear here, along with several others and some solo sides from Eddie.

This comp rolls out the numbers in chronological order based on the recording date, starting with a session by Reed's friend John Brim, who is now known for recording the original version of "Ice Cream Man", which later showed up on the first Van Halen record! Lots more amazing Chicago blues follows, with more cuts from Brim, several hits from Reed, a few from pianist Sunnyland Slim (nice interaction between guitar, piano and harp with Taylor providing some jazzy licks), some great, deep Delta blues from Floyd Jones [funny that for some of these sessions the personnel is the same and they just move the vocal mic], piano'n'harp Chicago blues from Little Willie Foster, some of John Lee Hooker's best and solid sides from Eddie himself (totally diggin' the raucous instrumental "ET Blues" - Taylor is ferocious here!).

Yes, I have a lot (though certainly not all) of these songs from the original artists, but this assembly of Taylor's work shows what a talent he was and, of course, having his solo work is worth the price alone. Excellent set!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Black Joe Lewis - Backlash

I've been a huge fan of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears ever since discovering their first album and have supremely dug their subsequent two. Their rock'n'soul sounds (mixed with punk, funk and whatever else they feel like throwing in) are always refreshingly energetic, with funky rhythms, soulful horns, raw-edged guitar work and fantastic singing.

In Backlash, Joe and the 'Bears mine the same territory as before, but the songwriting is always top-of-the-line and they don't stick to a rote formula. The opening "Flash Eyed" really doesn't follow any formula at all, but the horns hold it together in a soulful fashion, while the guitars churn out crunchy chords and whammy'd melodic lines. "Sexual Tension" has Sly and the Family Stone funkiness combined with Lewis' melodic James Brown-ish vocals, there's some minor-key grooviness in "Global" that builds into an intensely rockin' rave-up, then they slow down for a soul-filled, dynamic ballad in "Nature's Natural" that still includes a fierce, fuzz-toned guitar break.

We get some strings in the Issac Hayes-like "Lips of a Loser"that excalates nicely with some cool guitar work, there's a bit of danceable funk in "PTP", "Freakin' Out' has riff-rockin' hints of Outkast, wild guitar work, wailin' sax and frenetic punch and "Shadow People" continues with more potent smack'n'heavy guitars with a psyched-out whammy bar solo. There's a breather in "Wasted" with its pretty'n'melodic minor key mellowness and then I'm not sure what all is going on in "Prison" - there's some Stones-swagger, a bit of no wave dissonance, rockin' guitar riffs and a brutal delivery from Lewis - but I dig it, and then everything ends with some psych-soul in "Maroon".

Another excellent endeavor from the Honeybears! All of their stuff is top-notch - certainly hope they make it to Vegas one of these days!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Gentlemen of Four Outs' Booze Brunch at the Golden Tiki, Sunday, Sept 10, 2017

The Gentlemen of Four Outs has been wanting to do a Sunday Brunch show for quite a while and we finally got this organized at the Golden Tiki. We hope to make this a regular event, but we shall see. This afternoon was sparsely attended, but we hope that if we can continue with this concept we can make it grow. The people that did show up were enthusiastic and we even got some audience participation, which was fun. Keep your eyes out and let's see if we can make this happen again!

Young Frankenstein - The Musical (Saturday Sept 9, 2017)

We hadn't been out to any of the Super Summer Theater outdoor events at Blue Diamond Ranch in Red Rock Canyon before and thought that this adaptation of Young Frankenstein - as a musical - was a good excuse to check it out.

We had no idea what a production people made out of these events. Because it is open, picnic-style seating and the gates open an hour before the show starts, people make a night of it and either buy food at the (reasonably priced) concession stands there or bring picnic dinners. But, many of these were not the ordinary picnic dinner (like we brought), but they bring chairs and tables (!), several courses (pizza, roast chicken, sandwiches, etc.) and copious bottles of wine! One group even brought a chandelier! So, the people watching was as much of an event as the show itself.

The setting itself it quite nice - Red Rock Canyon is beautiful - and the stage and sound system are well done (although there were a few issues with Frankenstein's microphone) and the casual atmosphere makes for a fun time.

The show itself was, unfortunately, just ok. A lot of the musical numbers were overly silly, and crossed the line from clever/silly of Mel Brooks to just-plain-silly and not particularly funny. But, the actors were all good, the voices were great and the stage setting was effective. Not a story that needed to be made into a musical though - I think I would have enjoyed it more as simply a stage presentation of the movie's plot.

In any case, it was still a nice night out, the weather was great (the show was rained out the night before but the rain brought cool temperatures to the Canyon so we actually needed jackets), and it was organized well so getting in and out was not a huge hassle. We'll keep an eye open for other shows that grab our attention next season.